In continuance of my lists compiled from the Top 100 childrens books, I wanted to share with you all the books from the list set in New York City. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a great number of books were set in this great city. But because I have not visited NYC, I have asked my friend Bethany to share her thoughts on this phenomenon of childrens books taking place in this city. Enjoy her thoughts, her blog and the books!
“New York City. It’s big. It’s crowded. It’s loud. It’s exciting. It’s bright. It’s diverse. It’s a place where you can find any kind of person, food, music, fashion, and lifestyle. While it’s a city full of opportunity, hope, and passion, it’s also a place that can be dark, lonely, and dangerous.
So think about what such a city holds for children—the energy, the excitement, the joy. Having never been to the City until I was an adult, I often find myself jealous of kids I see going into the Met or playing in Central Park. I can’t imagine how special a childhood infused with the best of what the world has to offer in culture and food and sheer opportunity must be.
However. New York isn’t just bright and shiny.
For many, it represents an existence of struggle, fear, confusion, and heartbreak. A lifetime of trying to get ahead, only to have the rent go up again or have that perfect job fall through. It’s a place where, sometimes, kids have to raise themselves and act as adults far earlier than they ever should.
With so many different experiences and possibilities and outcomes, in many ways, New York City is the perfect setting for any novel. It’s a place that has so much character and history that an author has the ability to use NYC not only as a backdrop, but as a sort of supporting character, guiding the characters throughout the story simply by having them turn a corner or enter a building.
Although, you can argue that ANY setting can do the same thing, can’t you? Especially an urban setting. So what is it about New York that makes it so darn special?
I think it’s what the city represents for each person that comes to it. For some, it represents opportunity. For some, it’s the chance to start over. And for some, it’s the ability to just live there for awhile so that they can one day boast about it one day.
If you think that sounds over-romanticized, you’re probably right. I adore this city and constantly marvel at the fact that I call it home. I’ve been here for almost a year, and every time I see the skyline, I close my eyes and half expect it to have vanished when I open them. So maybe that’s why New York City is such a great setting—it’s a place that feels fictional even when you’re standing in the middle of it.”
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
When You Reach Me
The Lightning Thief
Harriet the Spy
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler